Chief Executive Newsletter Updates

The Farmers Club Newsletter – No. 24 – September 2021

September has got off to a cracking start with very good numbers of members staying, dining in the Restaurant and in function rooms and generally visiting the Club.  Until yesterday, some fine weather undoubtedly helped and many families took last minute advantage of that and the last few days of children’s summer holidays before the mass return last week. 
There has been some very interesting Club activity and we have had a trip to The Globe Theatre, The Farmers Club Charitable Trust AGM took place, The Club Reception at the Westmorland Show went ahead successfully and the Pinnacle Awards on Tuesday last made a welcome return after last years’ cancellation.
I attended the memorial service of Roddy Loder-Symonds yesterday and it was good to see several Farmers Club members there as we bade farewell to Roddy and remembered a true gentleman and stalwart of the Club.     
Despite the very best efforts of our HR Manager, Saskia, and the various contacts we all have within the hospitality industry, it has proved impossible to recruit any new chefs for Paul as yet, however, we are slowly but surely managing to recruit new team members in other departments where they are required and needed to meet future business levels. However, we are some distance from having the staffing levels we need.
As a result of this, and as I have trailed previously in this newsletter, we will have to introduce some regrettable amendments to our food and beverage services throughout the week which will have an impact on what we can offer in the Restaurant, Bar and function rooms at various times of the day. We are refining our plans and will send out the finer detail in an e-newsletter next week. For those that have functions booked we will be in touch to discuss your function.
This week also marked a milestone for one of our team members and someone known to most members.  Marlene Abrahams, our Reservations Manager, completed 20 years service to the Club today.  The team celebrated Marlene’s achievement with a glass of bubbly and gifts marking the occasion. Thank you Marlene for your service to the club!


During lockdown many of you became followers of “Craig’s Corner” the e-newsletter from Craig, your Member Experience Manager, detailing “What’s on” in London. The e-newsletter will continue and you can also now find it on our website in “Craig’s Corner” along with previous newsletters and additional information.
Click here to see the new page on our website.

As mentioned, a good number of members joined Craig on 7th September and embarked on a guided tour of the Globe Theatre on the South Bank – this proved to be particularly insightful as Craig had previously worked at this venue so our party were treated to a more personal and illuminating tour than would otherwise be the case. Following the tour, the party made its way back to the Club to take a break before enjoying an early supper prior to an evening performance of Romeo and Juliet.  A fabulous day encompassing culture, education and relaxation!

On 8th September, I met up with Club Chairman Keith Redpath for our visit to the Westmorland Show. This year marked something of a historic occurrence as for the first time in its history, the Show took place over two days. The Chairman spent most of the morning judging before we attended the President’s Lunch and met up with many Farmers Club members. Our Reception started in the late afternoon and was attended by about 45 members and their guests which was an excellent show of support. We were very fortunate to be addressed by local farming entrepreneur, Tebay Services founder and Farmers Club member, John Dunning CBE, who delivered a hugely interesting perspective on the future of farming in the region against the national political and policy backdrop. I think I can say, that all had a great afternoon and it was so very good to meet up with many folks who we had not seen for some time.

There will be a full report on the Pinnacle Awards within the pages of the next Journal, but suffice it to say, it was a pleasure to have young entrepreneurs having their ideas tested and questioned, back in the Club after last years’ absence. Professor Bill McKelvey was unable to be with us this year so Mr Jimmy McLean, former Club Chairman and current Trustee of the Club stepped in to act as Chairman of the judging panel. After a long day of interviewing, assessing and presenting, Mr McLean announced the winners of this years’ awards as follows: Gold Award Winner was Mr Harry Davies from Harper Adams University, Silver Award Winner was Mr Jacques Luckins from Bridgwater & Taunton College and the Bronze Award went to Mr Rory Oliver from Newcastle University. All eight finalists received a one year membership of the Club. Our thanks go to Judges, Jimmy McLean, Keith Redpath, Tony Turner and Charles Abel and also to the lecturers and families of the finalists for their support to the students and to ADAS and The CAVE Foundation without whose support the awards would not be possible.


May I also remind members of our Monday Evening Lecture on 1st November when our speaker will be Jane Sydenham, Investment Director at Rathbones – it should be a captivating and illuminating talk and details are in the last newsletter for August.  

A reminder also for our trip to the Royal Albert Hall to enjoy “The Beauty of Ballet” which with dinner and coach travel included should be an excellent night out – we are extending the ballot deadline until next Friday (17th Sep).
Places are still available for The Beauty of the Ballet at The Royal Albert Hall.

To book a place, please click here.

We are unable to take more members onto the Chelsea Club Event but we do have some Chelsea only tickets available. If you would like to go to Chelsea independently of the club, please do email Craig on
BCPC coming soon!!!!

One of the Club’s educational/agricultural highlights of the past few years has been the BCPC technical seminar series held here at the Farmers Club.  We still have places available for this excellent seminar which is perhaps more relevant than ever in the light of publication of the Dimbleby report of the UKs food strategy and the NFUs recently launched ‘British Food: Leading the Way’ initiative.  Details of how to book places, the programme for the day and the cost are all contained in the last newsletter.
Please book by return.


Amongst the plethora of articles sent to me recently, the following caught my eye as being interesting to members.  Following on from his lecture to the Club some time ago, the second part of the Food Strategy Policy document from Henry Dimbleby is now available.
For more information, click here.
Henry and the team have greatly appreciated all the support and kindness they have received over the last two years. The report is the beginning of a journey to transform the food system and Henry hopes you will continue to follow this work as it develops. 
OFC Bitesize
I thought this particular topic would be particualrly interesting and relevant in light of the current manpower situation across UK, and the potential and current challenges within farming:

Over the last few weeks the press has been dominated by agricultural labour challenges with “Christmas” put on hold by Tesco due to a shortage of staff to rear and prepare turkeys, Australia announcing an agricultural labour crisis due to visa restrictions, farmers reporting rotting fruit due to not enough workers to pick it and a pig backlog of nearly 85,000 due to a a lack of staff in the abattoirs.

But is isn’t a new challenge. Over the last decade we have seen reports of staff shortages in nearly every sector of agriculture and horticulture. This, combined with a lack of housing and rising costs, means employing someone is becoming more and more difficult.

In our next OFC Bitesize, we hear how the industry and farmers are innovating to attract and retain “Farming’s Future Workforce”. The panel will explore how novel technologies, such as robots, can increase productivity, what human skills are required to approach future demands, and share their own positive solutions.
Join us for this free event, hosted in partnership with the Institute of Agricultural Management

Thursday 7 October - 12:00 to 13:00
Register for this event here.

The last 2 weeks have seen the Club really burst back to life, looking busy and vibrant, so wonderful to see since our re-opening on 17th May. This looks set to continue for the foreseeable future. 
We will have all seen the PMs Announcements regarding vaccine boosters and the need for everyone to remain sensible to avoid further restrictions over the Winter period.  Regardless of that, our commitment to the cleanliness and hygienic atmosphere we have created in the Club will continue, in our efforts to make the Club as safe as possible.  I would ask that all members bear this in mind when they visit the Club and help us to maintain this balance within our premises. 

We look forward to seeing many of you over the next few months, be it on private visits, the Harvest festival Service and Supper, the Ladies Lunch or one of the many events that will be on offer during the next few weeks.

Best regards

Andrei Spence